People tend to take matters of the heart very seriously—and they tend to brush off hearing loss as inconsequential. But the truth is, your heart and ears have a lot more in common than most people realize.
In fact, decades of research point to a link between cardiovascular and hearing health.
Specifically, Raymond H. Hull, PhD, professor of communication sciences and disorders in audiology and neurosciences at Wichita State University, and Stacy R. Kerschen, AuD, conducted an analysis of 84 years of work from scientists worldwide on the link between cardiovascular health and the ability to hear and understand what others are saying. Their work, which reviewed 70 scientific studies, confirmed a direct link. The findings of their analysis also suggest that hearing loss may be an early sign of cardiovascular disease.
“Our entire auditory system, especially the blood vessels of the inner ear, needs an oxygen-rich nutrient supply,” says Hull. “If it doesn't get it due to cardiovascular health problems, then hearing can be affected."
Other research suggests that hearing loss may be an early sign of cardiovascular disease in seemingly healthy middle-aged people, and even found that hearing loss is common in people in their forties.
David R. Friedland, MD, PhD, Professor and Vice-Chair of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, went so far as to conclude from his study that patients with low-frequency hearing loss should be regarded as at risk for cardiovascular events, and appropriate referrals should be considered.
He explains the heart-hearing link like this:
“The inner ear is so sensitive to blood flow that it is possible that abnormalities in the cardiovascular system could be noted here earlier than in other less sensitive parts of the body.”
Other experts find the evidence so compelling they say the ear may be a window to the heart and encourage collaboration among hearing care providers, cardiologists, and other healthcare professionals.
So, go ahead. For American Heart Month in February, take the Better Hearing Institute’s (BHI) free, quick, and confidential online hearing check at www.BetterHearing.org to determine if you need a comprehensive hearing test by a hearing care professional.
5 random things your heart and ears have in common
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